Money can be tight at the best of times. If you are raising a family or keeping a home well looked after on a slim budget, things might have become a whole lot harder for you during this last year. Governments have had varied approaches to benefits and payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reasons why there have been so many wildly differing responses are myriad. Political convictions, existing welfare structures, and available emergency funds have all been influences in how individual nations have looked after their citizens during this troubling time.
Here are some of the ways in which countries are offering financial support to individuals right now.
Nowhere in the world are benefits a more political issue than in the United States. Individualism is entrenched in the political playbook of the land of the free.
Despite this, it was clear that some kind of emergency benefit was badly needed during the pandemic. As well as a package of corporate benefits, the outgoing Republican administration released small ‘Stimulus checks’ – so named because it was hoped they would encourage individual spending so as to stimulate the economy.
The current administration campaigned whilst promising a more substantial $2000 stimulus check for all Americans. In his first weeks in office, Joe Biden signed off on a large stimulus and financial aid package. Unfortunately, this has yet to be passed down to individuals.
Canada is well known for its progressive benefits policies in comparison with its southern neighbor. On March 25th, 2020, the Canadian government announced an emergency benefit to help with the increased financial strain that COVID-19 had inflicted upon many people.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides individuals with $500 per week for up to 16 weeks. It can be applied for separately and concurrently with other Canadian benefits like Employment Insurance.
Although this payment is easy to apply for and quick to be processed, Canadians may be responsible for paying back some or all of their CERB if they are retrospectively found to have been ineligible. There is plenty of help available to Canadians who have been asked to repay their Emergency Response Benefit. Additionally, it is worth noting that repayments can be appealed if a person feels like they have wrongfully been asked to hand back cash.
Nigeria faces some absolutely vast hurdles to overcome if it is to get through this pandemic without allowing vulnerable citizens to slide into poverty. Unlike the other nations on this list, Nigeria simply does not have the resources to offer payments to individual citizens.
The country’s primary export – oil – lost a huge amount of value during the early part of the crisis. The Nigerian government has sought to keep some degree of financial stability present in the lives of the new middle class: offering tax breaks and cuts on interest payments.
Unfortunately, people working in unregulated jobs or without property are not being offered very much at all.